Delaware Academy for School Leadership

I am not who I was Yesterday….

As I reflect on my 51 year career in education, I know that I am not the person I was when I first started teaching.  And these changes in beliefs are a good thing.  When I was in seventh grade the first African American student was enrolled in my school.  Lorraine sat alphabetically right in from of me.  I know I was not mean, but I also know I did not go out of my way to befriend her.  I was raised to believe everyone was created equally but that we all had our place.  My grandparents stated that even through we were all the same, God did not want us to mix. If he did, he would have made us the same color.  They further stated that people of color felt the same way.  And since I did not know any people of color I took this as fact.  This was also reinforced in the rural Methodist church I attended.  While we sang Jesus loves the little children….the message was loud and clear.  We are equal but separate.  After four years of university, I still had not met any African Americans other than those I worked with in the dining hall.  I loved them.  They were my support at school.  And then I got my first teaching job.  The school was fully integrated.

By Sharon Brittingham

Turning a Disappointed Candidate into a Supporter!

Want to promote your school or district’s brand?  Try starting with those candidates who didn’t get hired by you!

Each year, especially in May, June, and July, schools and districts interview and hire educators.  We’re talking about teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators and others.  It is not uncommon for a school to have 10 or more open positions from one school year to the next.  If that school interviews 5 people for each of those 10 positions, that’s 45 people who didn’t get the job.  Check that.  That’s 45 disappointed, possibly angry, frustrated, and salty people who didn’t get the job at your school.  The question is, how do they feel about their experience with your selection process?  I’m not talking about just the interview.  I’m talking about the initial call they receive letting them know you’re interested in an interview, how they are greeted and taken care of during the time they are with you, the actual interview itself,  who they meet while they are with you, and how you communicate with them following the interview.

By Mark A. Holodick

The Voyage Never Ends

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

This has been the most unusual year for all of us. Our personal and professional lives have been disrupted due to a virus we can’t see, but a virus we fear. Most have either lost a love one from the virus or have known someone who has been sick and afraid because of it. But somehow we have learned how to adapt our lives by wearing masks, staying socially distanced when going places like the grocery store, and washing our hands until they become chapped.   We have modified the way we work and live our lives. We have learned new technologies out of necessity.  Now that many of us are vaccinated we are feeling hopeful that maybe, just maybe, we can hug our children and grandchildren and come out of our virtual offices, and find a new normal. Normal as we knew it is probably a memory. And maybe some things needed to change.  I know I have changed as a result of living for a year in fear and seclusion, but also in self-reflection and reconstruction.

By Jackie Wilson

The Caring Principal

I just finished reading the book, The Caring Warrior by Tim (T.J.) Jones, and although it was written from a perspective in the business world, it made me reflect on my years as a building and district leader.  One of the things that I always prided myself on was having an “open door” policy to my staff.  I made sure that I communicated to them that I was always available to chat about their successes, their challenges, or just when they may need to vent.  Through the years, many of my staff made use of my open door to share professional stories, and also personal ones of which they thought I needed to be aware.  However, to truly be a caring leader, one needs to go beyond just being a good listener, or cheering up the staff by announcing a jeans day on a Friday.  As I read through Mr. Jones’s book, I thought about the things that I had done, and learned some things that I certainly could have done better during my days as a semi fearless principal.

By Chester Cox

The Long and Winding Road

The Long and Winding Road
It has been a while since my last Blog post. Like most of you I have been working from home in a virtual environment.  I have found myself busier that ever–maybe not spending time in airports or train stations, but lots of time on Zoom. I must admit that this new way of doing  work has been challenging and unexpected. Each day brings a new challenge and opportunity to re-imagine DASL’s work with district and school partners.  I think about it as navigating a “long and winding road” —lots of turns, detours and obstacles, but no final destination.

By Jackie Wilson

Setting The Tone

As a principal, I asked myself what I wanted visitors to our school to think when they left the building. What thoughts would a parent volunteer, guest speaker, foster grandparent, substitute teacher, or the Superintendent have as they left our school? What did I want them to say to other community members about what they saw, heard, and experienced as they visited, and how would I get the staff and students to foster a positive environment where visitors would take notice and spread the word?

By Chester Cox

I DON’T HAVE STUDENTS ANYMORE, AND OTHER FALSE ASSUMPTIONS

When you become an administrator, you are no longer a teacher.  That seems incontrovertible. No students coming to you to build a personal connection…no students coming to you to share their triumphs and tribulations,..no students to ask for your years of wisdom to learn something new and exciting.  That sounds terrible. I mean,…who is going…

By Dave Santore

What Matters Most

Jacqueline Lee, D.A.S.L

We have long held a belief that parental involvement is paramount, and we have actively sought ways to involve parents in the decision-making and event planning of our schools. We have come to realize, however, that this approach is vastly insufficient. While asking parents to sit on committees and seek input on school issues is important when considering the inclusion of multiple stakeholders, this approach disregards a large subgroup of parents, namely those that are unable or disinclined to attend meetings within a school.  Experience and research tell us these very parents are often the most necessary to include in school decisions.  Students who most greatly need the involvement of their parents are those who are struggling academically, behaviorally, and….

By Jackie Lee

Then and Now: Jackie Wilson

Song of the Open Road By Walt Whitman Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road, Healthy, free, the world before me, The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune, Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing, Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms, Strong and content I travel the open road. …….

By Jackie Wilson

Uncomfortable Conversations, and Other Delights.

If you want to be an administrator, expect to be engaged in uncomfortable conversations.  All the time…every day…several times a day, in fact!

Your life as a principal is basically one ginormous uncomfortable conversation (I’m not sure ginormous is actually a word, but remember…my blog…and it certainly drives the point home).

By Dave Santore